Dubai: Budget carrier flydubai said on Monday it remains confident about its Boeing 737 Max 8 jets even as airlines in various countries have suspended the operations of the same aircraft over safety concerns in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
The UAE-based airline assured that it went through a “rigorous process” before introducing the new Boeing aircraft into its fleet, adding that the aviation sector in the UAE is “highly regulated."
However, the airline said it continues to monitor the situation and that it's constantly in touch with Boeing. “We remain confident in the airworthiness of our fleet,” a spokesperson told Gulf News.
"flydubai went through a rigorous process to identify the right aircraft that met the requirements of our operations. The introduction to our fleet of a new model of aircraft is regulated by the FAA. This is also approved by the relevant authorities and regulators. The aviation sector is highly regulated and flydubai rigorously adheres to all regulations," the airline said.
flydubai has a total of 11 Boeing 737 Max 8 airplanes in operation. Last year, it just received seven 737 Max deliveries from the American manufacturer.
Safety concerns over the new 737, said to be Boeing’s best-selling plane, started to emerge after an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft of the same model crashed on Sunday, killing all the 157 people onboard. It was the second 737 Max to crash in just a few months. On October 2018, Lion Air’s Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff.
Boeing had earlier issued a safety bulletin in the wake of the Lion Air crash, alerting airlines that the plane could suddenly dive due to faulty readings on one of the aircraft’s sensors.
Both Ethiopian Airlines and Chinese regulators have suspended commercial operations of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft until further notice. Indonesian authorities followed suit, citing that the planes should remain grounded until they are cleared by safety regulators.
And as the spotlight turned to the 737 model, Boeing's shares on the stock market hit a slump following the accident.
Ethiopian Airlines stressed that it does not yet know the cause of the accident but has decided to ground that particular fleet “as extra safety precaution.”
In late December, the chairman of flydubai said he was not concerned about the carrier’s upcoming Boeing 737 MAX deliveries after a Lion Air plane of the same model crashed in October 2018, killing all 189 people onboard.
“We always knew that aircraft could come up with a snag, especially when they launched,” Shaikh Ahmad Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, who also serves as president of Dubai Civil Aviation and chairman and chief executive officer of Emirates Airline and Group.
“Boeing is a great company, [it has been] in business for a long time…I’m sure that will be managed,” he told reporters when asked about the Boeing 737 aircraft.
In a statement following the crash, Boeing said it is “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 Max 8 airplane.”
“A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and US National Transportation Safety Board.”